The Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture is Finally Out
Clear Verdict By
#JulianAssange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological #Torture”.
Q: What exactly is “Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment”?
A: In essence, ANY violation of physical, mental or emotional integrity that is incompatible with human dignity. > It is not complicated & it can never be justified... ever!
UN expert says "collective persecution" of Julian Assange must end now
GENEVA (31 May 2019) ‑ A UN expert who visited Julian Assange in a London prison says he fears his human rights could be seriously violated if he is extradited to the United States and condemned the deliberate and concerted abuse inflicted for years on the Wikileaks co-founder.
“My most urgent concern is that, in the United States, Mr. Assange would be exposed to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture.
“I am particularly alarmed at the recent announcement by the US Department of Justice of 17 new charges against Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act, which currently carry up to 175 years in prison. This may well result in a life sentence without parole, or possibly even the death penalty, if further charges were to be added in the future,” said Melzer, who was also following up on earlier concerns for Assange’s health.
Although Assange is not held in solitary confinement, the Special Rapporteur said he is gravely concerned that the limited frequency and duration of lawyers’ visits and his lack of access to case files and documents make it impossible for him to adequately prepare his defence in any of the complex legal proceedings piling up against him.
“Since 2010, when Wikileaks started publishing evidence of war crimes and torture committed by U.S. forces, we have seen a sustained and concerted effort by several States towards getting Mr. Assange extradited to the United States for prosecution, raising serious concern over the criminalisation of investigative journalism in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and international human rights law,” Melzer said.
“Since then, there has been a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation against Mr. Assange, not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, Sweden and, more recently, Ecuador.” According to the expert, this included an endless stream of humiliating, debasing and threatening statements in the press and on social media, but also by senior political figures, and even by judicial magistrates involved in proceedings against Assange.
“In the course of the past nine years, Mr. Assange has been exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.”
Melzer was accompanied during his prison visit on 9 May by two medical experts specialised in examining potential victims of torture and other ill-treatment.
The team were able to speak with Assange in confidence and to conduct a thorough medical assessment.
“It was obvious that Mr. Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years,” the expert said. “Most importantly, in addition to physical ailments, Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma. WATCH
“The evidence is overwhelming and clear,” the expert said. “Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.
“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the deliberate, concerted and sustained nature of the abuse inflicted on Mr. Assange and seriously deplore the consistent failure of all involved governments to take measures for the protection of his most fundamental human rights and dignity,” the expert said. “By displaying an attitude of complacency at best, and of complicity at worst, these governments have created an atmosphere of impunity encouraging Mr. Assange’s uninhibited vilification and abuse.”
In official letters sent earlier this week, Melzer urged the four involved governments to refrain from further disseminating, instigating or tolerating statements or other activities prejudicial to Assange’s human rights and dignity and to take measures to provide him with appropriate redress and rehabilitation for past harm. He further appealed to the British Government not to extradite Assange to the United States or to any other State failing to provide reliable guarantees against his onward transfer to the United States. He also reminded the United Kingdom of its obligation to ensure Assange’s unimpeded access to legal counsel, documentation and adequate preparation commensurate with the complexity of the pending proceedings.
“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,” Melzer said. “The collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!”
Mr Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King
'Any indifference towards someone else's integrity and dignity equally threatens our own and, fundamentally, betrays humanity as a whole' - Nils Melzer
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW with the BBC
MUST WATCH: U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture
@NilsMelzer says there has been a lot of "fabrication and manipulation" in Julian Assange's legal cases. "We have to take a step back and look at all these proceedings ... and come to our own conclusions about whether these are fair."
MUST READ: U.N. official says Assange is a victim of ‘psychological torture,’ warns against extradition to the U.S.
Nils Melzer stated to the WaPo: "For the record: I never said I considered
#JulianAssange „a bad actor“ but that, initially, I had been affected by the same misguided smear campaign as everybody else, and only saw the real facts once I investigated in detail."
John Pilger speaks out: “Today it’s Julian Assange, tomorrow it could be you”
Investigative journalist, broadcaster and film maker John Pilger spoke to the media outside the Westminster Magistrates Court about Assange’s case.
WikiLeaks ambassador Joseph Farrell: “Going into prison is a big, ominous, oppressive feeling”
The WSWS spoke to Joseph A. Farrell, a WikiLeaks ambassador and a Centre for Investigative Journalism board member. “We are told that we live in a democratic society, but this proves it’s not the case”
On the spot report: Protest outside Westminster Magistrates Court demands freedom for gravely ill Julian Assange
Around 100 people demonstrated outside Westminster Magistrates Court Thursday morning to oppose US extradition proceedings targeting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Protesters speak out in defence of Assange
WSWS reporters spoke to some of those protesting outside Westminster Magistrates Court against efforts to extradite Julian Assange to the United States.
And know also:
Top UK judge Ian Burnett announced that UK Investigatory Powers Commissioner Adrian Fulford, who is responsible for watching out for abuse of power by public authorities, would leave his post early.
"The Lord Chief Justice has today announced… that Lord Justice Fulford will succeed Lady Justice Hallett as the Vice-President of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) following her retirement in October 2019… This means that Lord Justice Fulford will finish his time as Investigatory Powers Commissioner some four months before the end of his three-year appointment", the Investigatory Powers Commissioner's Office said in a statement on Thursday.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after The Times reported that the UK Defence Ministry had not shared with the commissioner its secret policy that allegedly violated the government's no-torture guidelines.
The outlet reported on 20 May, citing a ministry document obtained by the Rendition Project through the Freedom of Information Act, that while Fulford was working on updating the nation's intelligence-sharing guidelines for cases entailing possible abuse or torture, the Defence Ministry authorized data-sharing even if the person in question was likely to face torture if cabinet ministers agreed that the potential benefits would outweigh the risks.
The Defence Ministry, in turn, said that it did not take part in torturing people or condone any form of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, adding that such a policy had never been implemented.
According to The Times, the watchdog said that it had contacted the Defence Ministry after learning about the policy and that the ministry agreed it would have to be reviewed once the updated guidelines were in place.
The United Kingdom is part of an intelligence-sharing alliance, called Five Eyes, which also comprises Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
and understand this:
The UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has refuted UN Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer’s assessment that Julian Assange had been subjected to years-long "psychological torture" during his refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and was a victim of "collective persecution" in the West as wrong and interfering in the UK judicial process.
"This is wrong. Assange chose to hide in the embassy and was always free to leave and face justice. The UN Special Rapporteur should allow British courts to make their judgements without his interference or inflammatory accusations", Hunt wrote on Twitter.
After visiting Assange in London's high-security Belmarsh prison earlier in the day, Melzer said that the prominent whistleblower had for years been "deliberately exposed… to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture." The UN official also urged the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Ecuador to stop their "collective persecution" of Assange.
Melzer’s visit came after Assange was transferred to the jail's health ward and WikiLeaks voiced concerns over his deteriorating health. The whistleblowing organization explained that its founder continued to lose weight and was even allegedly incapable of maintaining a normal conversation with one of his lawyers.
‘No Useful Information’: Manning’s Lawyers Argue Her Testimony Is Unnecessary
Lawyers for whistleblower Chelsea Manning have filed a new motion seeking her release from a Virginia jail, arguing she “has no useful information” for the grand jury and believes “the government does not actually require her testimony.
"She is suffering physically and psychologically, and is at the time of this writing in the process of losing her home as a result of her present confinement," Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Sandra Freeman and Christopher Leibig, Manning's lawyers, wrote in a motion filed Friday in a Virginia federal court.
"She has made clear she prefers to become homeless rather than betray her principles. Her intransigence, at this point, is not reasonably in question. What is in doubt, however, is the government's need for her testimony," they said.
On May 16, US Circuit Court Judge Anthony Trenga ordered Manning jailed in contempt of a grand jury before which she had been summoned to testify for its investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Manning had been released only a week prior from a previous 62-day jail stay for the same reason, only being let out because the grand jury's term expired.
However, this grand jury will be around for another 18 months, and when Trenga ordered Manning back to jail to try and coerce her to testify, he slapped a stiff financial penalty on her: after 30 days, she'll be fined $500 a day, and after 60 days, $1,000 a day.
During her first jailing, Manning articulated her philosophy that grand juries are fundamentally unfair and that, because she opposes them on moral grounds, will never be moved to testify before them.
"I can either go to jail or betray my principles," she wrote on May 7, during her previous jailing. "The latter exists as a much worse prison than the government can construct."
"I will not cooperate with this or any other grand jury. It doesn't matter… what it is or what the case is," Manning told members of the press on May 16 before her hearing. "The truth is, no matter what happens today… I'm not going to comply with this grand jury,"
Now the dispute has become a jurisprudential polemic with Judge Trenga. The federal judge told Manning that grand juries are specifically referenced in the US Constitution, so there is no dishonor in testifying before them. He said he hoped sitting in jail would give her time to reflect on that, the Washington Post reported.
However, Manning pushed back, arguing in a subsequent letter to Judge Trenga that the grand jury process was a "rubber stamp" that gave prosecutors "unearned legitimacy" in the courtroom.
"I refuse to participate in a process that has clearly transformed into something that violates the spirit if not the letter of the law," she wrote, according to the Post. "I object to this grand jury in particular as an effort to frighten journalists and publishers, who serve a crucial public good."
"I am positive that the founders never intended the grand jury to function like those we see today," she said.
In their Friday motion, Manning's lawyers also argued that, since Assange is both sitting in a British jail and charged with 18 criminal counts by US prosecutors, compelling Manning to testify about her relationship with Assange is pointless.
"What remains to be seen is whether the government can claim with a straight face to have an ongoing need for her testimony," they wrote.
In 2010, Manning, then a US Army intelligence analyst, published via WikiLeaks a trove of classified US government documents proving the US routinely covered up war crimes by US forces and their allies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning apologized for the crime, which earned her a 35-year prison sentence, but that was commuted by President Barack Obama as he left office in January 2017, and she was freed that May.
Manning was grilled about this extensively during her trial, and part of her refusal to testify before this grand jury stems from her belief that since she's already testified about it, asking her again many years later could be used to entrap her if her wording or recollection of events differs from before.
The charges against Assange stem from the help he allegedly gave Manning in covering her tracks while stealing those documents, as well as allegedly encouraging her to leak even more. Federal prosecutors have invoked the 1917 Espionage Act against him, effectively accusing him of being a spy and not a journalist.